[Give] thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
When people take part in an orchestra, they lose something of their own individuality. A symphony is not a solo performance. Although the musicians do not lose their identities, they’re nevertheless subsumed into the orchestra itself. The group is more significant as a whole than an individual is on their own, and the collective produces something that no individual musician could create.
Paul expresses a similar idea when he writes of “submitting to one another”—though here, of course, the group is not an orchestra but the church.
While we may have a variety of responses to the concept of submission, we must acknowledge that the Bible uses it straightforwardly and frequently. For Paul, the unity and health of the church depended on Christians understanding submission rightly and putting that into practice among one another.
What does it look like to take the matter of believers’ mutual submission seriously? In part, it means each of us realizing that we don’t have the slightest reason to feel overly pleased with ourselves or superior to somebody else. In other words, we demonstrate mutual submission by putting on humility. This is made difficult, of course, by our pride—a great challenge we all face, and one that is intensified by living in a culture that is constantly pressuring us to push ourselves to the front.
Yet the church ought to stand out in and from that kind of environment. As God’s people, we understand that we cannot even wake in the morning without His enabling. The fact of the matter is that we are entirely dependent on Him (Acts 17:24-25). The gospel is the key to true humility because the gospel reminds us that God has done for us in Jesus the thing that we most need, and the thing that we are utterly unable to do for ourselves.
Real humility is not self-deprecation; it is freedom from ourselves. It’s the freedom to be ourselves and forget ourselves. It’s the freedom that comes from knowing that we are not the center of the universe. When you keep such humility in sight, you will be prepared to submit to others—to bring all that you are and use it to serve the greater good, under the direction of others, with the interests of others as your priority. Then your church can produce something beautiful—a gospel-displaying community. So do not wait for others in your church to be that kind of Christian. Today, humbly resolve that you will be that Christian.
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Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, published by The Good Book Company, thegoodbook.com. Used by Truth For Life with permission. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company.